Good Food Blog
A few of our favourite things...Posted at 12:53PM, 28 November 2008 by Andrea McGinniss - Editor, bbcgoodfood.com
Have laptops, will travel. And travel we have, up the road to the Birmingham Good Food Show to share some of our favourite foodie finds - and to rub shoulders with our favourite celeb chefs.We're just back from a buffet breakfast shared with those famously hirsute bikers and Charley Boorman. Last night we spied a few familiar faces at the hotel bar too: James Martin, Mark 'Sarge' Sargeant, Angela Hartnett, Jimmy Doherty, Ainsley, and even a brief appearance from Gordon and Tana. But enough of the namedropping. Many samples later, we present the bbcgoodfood.com web team's top picks from the Show.
I haven't been able to attack the BBC Good Food Show with my usual abandon as a result of being pregnant. Alcohol's out, many of those delicious cheeses are out and spicy foods just don't seem to be sitting well. Despite this, foraging among the stalls turned up many a gem...
Snowdonia Cheese Company, delivered as always and their tangy Pickle Power cheddar laced with pickled onions (hmm pickles and pregnancy - what a cliche) was crumbly, piquant and moreish in equal measure. Having grazed bountifully at Plamil's chocolate-laden stall, I felt it rude to walk away without parting with a little cash and the organic ginger chocolate was worth the outlay. Neutralising any post-chocolate guilt with a healthy option, dried fruitmongers Urban Fresh Fruit's sweet sticky strawberries (billed as "100% healthy") caught my attention - if only all health foods tasted that good.
When I think of the Show, sausages and sweeping implements inevitably spring to mind. Sausages because the smell hits you the second you enter the halls and brooms because it seems every third person on the train home seems to be juggling at least two of them along with all their shopping bags and boxes. I'm convinced it's all down to the smooth sales patter of The Aussie Sweepa salesman. I want to nominate him for the next series of the Apprentice, this guy could sell snow to the eskimos, and each show I find his demonstrations at least as entertaining as those of even the most charismatic 'sleb chefs.
I also have a super soft spot for Debbie and Andrew's Sausages . I'm not sure who Debbie or Andrew are, but I love their work so much I would consider naming my future children after them. Try one of their freshly snipped sausages if you pass their stand and you'll understand why.
Lastly I'd like to give a shout to Jennifer's antique cutlery, a tiny stall packed with gorgeous old kitchen trinkets that stands out among all the novelty gizmos and hype. In fact I'm off there now to buy a rustic cake knife for my mum's Christmas present. I just have to try to remember not to pack it in my hand luggage for the long flight back to Perth.
It was during my first Good Food Show visit in 2005 that I first thought of a career in food, watching the lovely Jane Hornby demonstrating some dishes from the magazine. Three years on and this was my first show as part of the Good Food team, so watching Jane and Emma's dem this time around was extra fun - plus, their ideas for mincemeat custard pies and mulled wine cocktail got my mouth watering.
Around the rest of the vast NEC, I was particularly enamoured with the English cassis and framboise - I swung by twice to have a cheeky taste and hoped they didn't recognise me the second time...
But my main obsession was with a small stand where a sales pro was demonstrating a plastic implement called the Sushi Master - the Ultimate Sushi Maker, as advertised on shopping channels, RRP £40, but available here for only £20! With a free knife thrown in just for you, ladies and gentlemen! I watched twice, and was no less convinced on hearing the exact same spiel the second time. My feeble attempts at bargaining were to no avail, but I simply had to have one anyway. What's not to love? Now I can make restaurant-quality round, square, and yes, even heart-shaped sushi rolls in the comfort of my own home!
Have you discovered any new favourites at this year's show?